In their own rights, being a new business owner and a new mother are some of greatest challenges any woman can face. Doing both at the same time requires a certain set of skills and characteristics including lots of determination, patience, and multi-tasking. (And perhaps that occasional glass of red wine at the end of a hectic day.)
I liken mompreneurs to wonder women with super powers. Both roles are extremely demanding and both carry responsibilities that rarely end when the 5 o’clock whistle blows.
Last March, we at denken Research & Consulting conducted a brief qualitative study to uncover some of the greatest challenges that mompreneurs face. Our objective was also to gather advice and resources, and then share our findings with other mompreneurs so they, too, could successfully manage multiple roles. Participants were recruited from Ladies Who Launch, a nationwide organization that supports women entrepreneurs. In-depth, hourlong telephone interviews were conducted with select participants, who represented a variety of industries from around the country and were at various stages of mompreneurship. Some of them were new to motherhood with a newborn at home; others were a little more seasoned with up to five children. Some were more experienced entrepreneurs with businesses existing for up to five years; others had just started their businesses within the last six months, and one woman was still in the midst of launching. Despite the fact that there was great diversity within the group, plenty of common scenarios and challenges surfaced. These wonder women so kindly offered their words of wisdom as well as a few tricks of the trade when it comes to coping with mompreneurship:
1.) Plan your work and work your plan. Women are naturally great planners and that is precisely what helps them keep all those balls in the air. Make technology your BFF (i.e. Blackberries, Outlook) or squeeze the value out of a good old fashioned calendar. Set up weekly and daily schedules and stick to them. One interviewee said it so succinctly: “divide and conquer.” Get your husband and older children to help more with household chores, making dinner, and cleaning. Treating your calendar like “The Holy Grail” will help keep your entire life on track, all in one place.
2.) Prioritize your priorities. Since both children and business vie for the prize (your attention), it is crucial that your schedule specifies when you are in “work mode” and when you are in “mom mode.” When in a particular zone, be fully dedicated and focused. And don’t feel inadequate or unproductive if you are unable to tick off your entire To Do list each day. There is always tomorrow. As organized as you might be, there will constantly be surprises and zingers that can throw your day into disarray, so try to be as flexible as possible.